This week, Tom got much needed introvert time while Lindsay partied with the national Board of Word & World, an organization committed to "carving out alternative spaces for theological formation, bridging the gulf of the seminary, the sanctuary, and the street." We joined in a planning meeting for the upcoming (July 2015!) Detroit School with local teachers, therapists, hip-hop artists, lawyers, long-time organizers & civil rights activists, spoken word poets, pastors, permaculturalists, professors and Gospel singers. This was a lively, talented crowd.
Lindsay attended a cultural event for the New Work New Culture Conference in the city over the weekend. Indigenous rapper Sacramento Knoxx and a local hip-hop and arts collective called The RAIZ Up performed, and graffiti artist Antonio Cosme (above photo: see his "Decolonize" artwork on an abandoned building overlooking the Corktown neighborhood) gave a workshop on using creativity as a labor of love to build a whole new world. Don't worry: Lindsay hasn't tagged our apartment yet… but she did come away eager to be apprenticed in the lost art of canning food & was prodded to spend more time with children outdoors, being apprenticed by them in the lost art of encountering the world through their senses.
We hosted our friend Mike Boucher whom we met in Rochester, NY last summer during our 75-day roadtrip. Mike is a therapist back home, possesses a quick dry wit, a deep love for people and passionate desire to learn. Ironically, "Mike Boucher" is also the name of a former basketball player from Mission Viejo High School that Tom got in a fight with during a bench-clearing brawl back in 1990 when Capo was known as "The Bad Boys of the South Coast League." That's a story for a different time.
On Friday, we drove up to North Detroit to a large black Baptist church to hear the infamous Jeremiah Wright preach on Luke 7:1-10. Rev. Wright was inspiring, warm, funny, critically constructive and brilliant. Google his name and there are a lot of haters. They are missing out. None of the controversial things Wright has ever said were not proclaimed first by Martin Luther King & Frederick Douglass.
On Sunday, we attended the town hall meeting hosted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights who sent two rapporteurs to Detroit on a fact-finding mission this past weekend. We heard testimony from dozens of residents who have had their water shut-off by the city. If you look closely, you can see Tom upstairs (in his size medium red puffy vest purchased at the Goodwill in Gardena this summer) overlooking the proceeding:
Here is a brief summary from their press conference on Monday, detailing their recommendations for the city. BBC reported:
The UN experts said Detroit's water utility had increased water rates by 8.7% in an effort to pass on the higher costs of leakage in ageing pipes.
That, along with the city's high unemployment rate and a decline in the overall number of customers as the city's population shrinks, rendered water bills "increasingly unaffordable to thousands of residents in Detroit living under the poverty line", Ms de Albuquerque added.
Under such conditions, Detroit's low-income and African-American populations have been disproportionally impacted, the UN finds.
"Such situations go against internationally recognised human rights standards," wrote Ms Farha, special rapporteur on housing.
The UN officials recommended the creation of a mandatory federal water and sewage affordability standard, as well as special allowances for those in "particularly vulnerable circumstances".
"The city of Detroit should restore water connections to residents unable to pay and to vulnerable groups of people including persons with disabilities, the chronically ill, and households with small children," Ms de Albuquerque wrote.
And, yesterday, we hosted our first Strong Marriages group of the Fall. This will be an 8-week workshop that Lindsay will facilitate, taking each couple through their pain & peace cycles, looking together at family genograms, and reflecting upon personality styles & spiritual gifts within our coupleships. She has led a few of these groups and intensives over the past couple years and is excited to be giving it a test drive now in Motor City!